A guest blog by lifelong HHN fan and friend of HHNU Mr. Rob McMullen
After twenty-years of blood, gore, and revolutionizing the horror industry could we be seeing a change in Universal’s most Iconic event? Since the events humble beginnings it has featured Icons and hosts to welcome the guests and bring a more centralized theme to each years’ events. But could Universal be changing their event to usher in a new era of more IPs and fewer Universal created houses and themes?
In 2000 we saw the creation of the first Icon, Jack, who has been the brought back to event as an icon more than any other. Although he has been used in houses and scarezones more throughout the years he has only officially hosted 5 times. Jack has been a long running favorite icon for both the creative team and the fans of the event. Jack holds an amazing cult following and has held by far the most fluidity out of all the Icons since his creation in 2001. Ranging from a humble evil clown who would roam Turkey Lake road and even around the park in his first year, to a ringmaster of the Carnival of Carnage, to his most recent redesign as the master of ceremonies for the 25th anniversary in which he proclaimed “I am Horror Nights”. Mike Aiello has been a longtime fan of Jack, even stating in a recent interview that; “He is HHN. His presence is always felt.”
So maybe Jack’s and the other Icons will always be felt but will they always be featured? In the last 5 years of events, 2010 to 2015, there have been 3 events with Icons featured which stands to reason they are a solid feature in the event, however 25 was an anniversary year as was the 20th,which might be the only reason why there were Icons featured so heavily at the events. If we take those years out of the running for a minute then we only have one year in the last five that there has been a featured Icon. Why would Universal want to ditch their long standing love of Icons and original house themes?
Profit and increased public awareness are the motive for these decisions. I grew up loving HHN and practically studying every year’s event. Many HHN fans used to look to the event not only as a source of entertainment but rather as a progression of the characters and the stories which they were creating. The houses were presented to us not only as pieces of the yearly narrative but rather pieces of the larger story. The Park always paid tribute to their past and where they came from and they never wanted to forget their past. But when we look at the event post 2010 we see an entirely new creation. I’m not here to bash the walking dead for the rest of the article because we all know how fanboys of the event love it so. Universal saw an incredible public interest for the walking dead and other IPs and thus they ran with them. Attendance for the event has skyrocketed and as a company they are incredibly happy, and I do enjoy some of the IPs they have used in recent years because IPs are not a new concept for the event.
I will end with my final point, my prediction for HHN in the upcoming years is an event which focuses less on the creation of original content and rather the reliance on IPs. I do think that Universal has the ability to make these IPs into incredible houses and to keep the event at the amazing level that it is at. However, I think that the event will never return to its classic days.
Whatever the destination right now, we can all rest assure that it will be one hell of a journey!
What do you prefer? IPs or Universal created original houses? Let us know in the comments!